The meeting planning process has changed dramatically throughout the past year as we have all found new ways to connect and forge forward during this time. To me, one of the most impactful trends that has come out of the pandemic is that of virtual site tours. In addition to being a great method for seeing a destination in a time when many companies have restricted travel, it is a very convenient and cost-effective way to evaluate multiple destinations for an event.
With planners and destinations becoming more comfortable with virtual site tours, I expect this trend will not go away anytime soon. Here are my top tips for both planners and venues to ensure a successful virtual visit.
Be Specific About Your Needs
When planners schedule a site tour with a destination, it is important for them to be specific about what elements are most important for the success of their program. This will help the venue to customize the tour to ensure it covers the aspects that are most relevant for the meeting.
I also recommend that planners ask as many questions as possible in order to ensure the venue is the perfect fit for their function. For example, it is important to ask what benefits the property offers that makes them unique from the other destinations that are being considered. Another important consideration: Ask the venue to walk through the changes that have been made due to Covid-19.
From the venue’s perspective, it is important to ensure that the logistics of the virtual conference are prepared well in advance. For example, venues need to determine the time the planner has available for their virtual site, and then create a schedule to help maximize the tour. In order to be successful, tours need to have a smooth flow from one area of the property to the next. I recommend that the sales representative conducting the tour do a run through in advance in order to help anticipate any questions or delays.
Make it Compelling
While nothing can replace the in-person experience of a destination, is important to make sure a virtual site tour is dynamic. For example, at Hyatt Regency Hill Country, we involve colleagues from all departments, from our executive chef speaking about the food experience, to our spa and golf director highlighting our recreational activities. By introducing the planner to members of the team, it helps them to get a feel for the personality of our property and our dedication to ensuring the success of their function.
Have Fun with It
It’s important for venues to make the virtual tours engaging and have fun with the process. For example, venues can add a fun experiential component to the tour that is specific to their property, whether it’s a cocktail demonstration that the planner can follow along with at home, or a special message from the General Manager or Tourism Director, a personalized element can go a long way in making an impression.
Michael Hrabovsky is director of sales, marketing, and events at Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa in San Antonio, Texas.